University of Tasmania

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A survey of regular ecstasy users' knowledge and practices around determining pill content and purity: Implications for policy and practice

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 18:31 authored by Johnston, J, Barratt, MJ, Fry, CL, Kinner, S, Stoove, M, Degenhardt, L, George, J, Jenkinson, R, Dunn, M, Raimondo BrunoRaimondo Bruno
Objective: To examine the methods used by a sample of regular ecstasy users to determine the content and purity of ecstasy pills, their knowledge of the limitations of available pill testing methods, and how pill test results would influence their drug use behaviour. Method: Data were collected from regular ecstasy users (n = 810) recruited from all eight capital cities of Australia. Data were analysed using multiple logistic regression and chi-square (χ 2) tests of association. Open-ended responses were coded for themes. Results: The majority of the sample (84%) reported attempting to find out the content and purity of ecstasy at least some of the time, most commonly asking friends or dealers. Less than one quarter (22%) reported personal use of testing kits. There was a moderate level of awareness of the limitations of testing kits among those who reported having used them. Over half (57%) of those reporting personal use of testing kits reported that they would not take a pill if test results indicated that it contained ketamine and over three quarters (76%) reported that they would not take an "unknown" pill (producing no reaction in a reagent test). Finally, a considerable majority (63%) expressed interest in pill testing should it be more widely available. Conclusions: The majority of regular ecstasy users sampled in this Australian study report previous attempts to determine the content and purity of pills sold as ecstasy. Although only a small proportion have used testing kits, many report that they would do so if they were more widely available. The results of pill tests may influence drug use if they indicate that pills contain substances which ecstasy users do not want to ingest or are of unknown content. More detailed research examining ways in which pill testing may influence drug use is required to inform evidence-based policy. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Publication title

International Journal of Drug Policy










School of Psychological Sciences



Place of publication

United Kingdom

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

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